So you've read the first impressions here. This Beginner's Guide walks you through each of the three new maps, pointing out scenery of note, general level structure and the odd tip that could possibly stem the inevitable early shame of being owned by someone with a gamer tag such as Wank Static. Or Girls Gun Wild. Think of this as a Rough Guide travel journal, relayed by Louis Theurox running around like a headless chicken in an intergalactic warzone.
Before you enter the game you should know the following things. You can pick your language, prioritise players with a good connection speed and also 'veto' any levels - a majority veto from active players will lead to a new map and game type being offered. 3 ranked playlists are available: Rumble Pit, Team Slayer and Team Skirmish. In the 'Social Playlist' Rumble Training and Team Training are available. So, in theory, you can avoid playing with TexasGunSlinga who is abusive, has a shit connection and loves playing the really, really simple map that no one else likes. For the record (and the lawyers), TexasGunSlinga doesn't really exist - we made him up, see?
In case you didn't know, you'll need to use Crackdown as a beta key on 16th May to download the beta which weighs in at 916 Meg. In the meantime, ready yourself for the carnage and enjoy...
This will be the most familiar map for existing players of Halo 2. High Ground is a sun scorched tropical retreat which features concrete bunkers, metal gates and curious military base style objects. The most hectic and most complex of the maps in the beta, High Ground is basically a chance to snipe through bunker windows or camp on top of them as you get higher and higher. The gates can be blasted open and there a good amount of boxes and barrels to be blasted and sent tumbling towards rivals. The object that aroused our tingling investigate tendrils most, however, is a gated giant launching device. The three vacant holes in the launcher which points skywards look like something that a Bond villain might have on his Christmas wish-list. Sadly, it's not active, with only the 'Guidance Control' label on the side of the structure suggesting that it could (maybe) launch planet destroying rockets in the single player game. There's ragged camo sheets covering the higher concrete bases , along with gun turrets and a small tunnel system which can be used as a hiding place. The tunnel itself looks suspiciously like a missile loading rig to us, given our in-depth military knowledge gained by watching Under Siege at least three times. Importantly, once you get in the tunnel, it's possible to camp and throw grenades towards the entrance like a territorial SAS mole, detonating anyone who dares poke their snout in.
So far, so Goldeneye. There's even a radio and laptop on a random desk and all manner of barrels labeled with toxic stickers. Again, we'll happily speculate that this points towards massive chemical/nuclear war in the single player game. The first thing you'll notice while admiring the gorgeous yet familiar scenery is the presence of Mongoose jeeps (a two seater recon vehicle with no weapons, unlike the Warthog from the previous games) by the coastal end of the map, useful for Skirmish and Team Slayer modes. With the sheer amount of hazardous stickers on everything and plentiful jeeps, we're guessing that nobody's really considered the carbon footprint agenda here. This is confirmed when you get to the top of High Ground and look down upon rivals like ants. The view is stunning but there's something here that uses more electricity than the frickin' Death Star. It's called the Spartan Laser and it flickers a red beam of light towards a target before causing an explosion that goes off the Richter scale. If you see a little red beam, it's not a lens flare effect, it's early notification of your impending death which will occur 00.21 seconds later.